Have you ever strolled the streets of Venice, stopped by Rome’s Vatican Museum to admire the architecture while on your way to the pristine islands of Greece? Our happy customers Vidhi Naredi and Anket Agrawal not only did this in one breath but also fell in love with the journey — and Pickyourtrail couldn’t feel prouder! Listen to Vidhi as she warmly recalls about her trip:)
Our Venice holiday kickstarted with the beautiful views of the city. We took a city bus from our hotel and embarked on a sightseeing tour. How beautiful Venice is! Narrow streets with water taxis passing by made it a complete package to adore. Don’t forget to have gelato in Suso and Captain Candy, they have arguably some of the delicious gelatos in Italy. The clock tower of San Marco square does offer a beautiful Aerial view of the city, but it comes at a cost of 600 steps and 15 bucks per person. Instead, go for Basilica of San Marco which offers breathtaking panoramic views at the backdrop of a gazillion pigeons. As opposed to the usual miniature souvenirs, buy a quirky mask from this city of masks.
Heads up: Do buy city travel passes in advance. Buying tickets on the spot may burn your pockets. Bus tickets cost around 1.5 EUR per person and water ferries a whopping 7.5 EUR per person. Also, water is a bit expensive here so try to manage with 1.5l bottles costing around 2 EUR. Avoid drinking open water from taps/restaurants.
4-hour Motorboat Cruise to Venice Lagoon Islands: Murano, Burano and Torcello
Our day started off with our cruise ride to the glass island of Murano and the multi-coloured city of Burano. Zoned out by the awe-inspiring beauty of Venice, we reached our location 5 minutes late and missed our ride. Fortunately, Pickyourtrail’s finest travel partner managed to accommodate us in immediate next tour after 30 mins.
We started off our tour from the island of Murano, known for glass-making factories. Our ship docked exactly at the entrance of one of the workshops and we witnessed the amazing glass sculpturing process. Stop at the huge glass shop behind this workshop if you wish to buy some artefacts—they are surprisingly cheaper. But if you feel like taking a walk, take the small exit adjacent to the lobby. You’ll find that the entire island is laden with such small glass shops that are beautiful inside out.
We reached Burano from there, which is known for its multicoloured buildings. We can’t take our eyes off the picturesque buildings towering over clear skylines and once we could, we grabbed some food—delicious but expensive. Here you will find shops with handcrafted artefacts made by indigenous Burano women. Don’t think twice before buying one, as they are worth investing in.
Heads up: Try not to spend much time in Murano’s glassmaking workshops of Murano, rather explore the small shops in the island in small shops which come at a much cheaper price. The vibrant Burano is the best photoshoot spot. Dress up bright to go with the backdrop.
Classic 30-minute Gondola Ride
Aww! The most wonderful part of our Venice tour was the gondola ride. It’s a mandatory thing to do in Venice. I think it’s not too late to call out Pickyourtrail’s amazing concierge service! Wow, never once we had worry about something going wrong! The gondola is usually shared by 6 people and we were lucky enough to share it with two other jolly US couples. Venice is divided into two main islands and the Grand Canal is the main water stream separating them. The gondola ride takes you through the grand canal and en route you will witness the majestic Rialto Bridge. Don’t take your camera out yet, it’s time to gawk at the scenery at peace.
Heads up: A Gondola ride is a shared one, try to get the best seat for beautiful sceneries. Private gondola rides are indeed available by spending 100 Eur, which you can opt for a private experience.
48-hour Roma Pass, Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel skip-the-line
We caught our train from Venice to Rome early morning. Our Roma passes were booked in advance by PYT team—one of the best buys. Believe me, this is your saviour for your Rome travel and your best entry card to the colosseum. Collect your Roma pass in platform number 24 of the Roma Termini. Post dumping our luggage and getting a warm welcome by our hotel host Massimo we proceeded to have lunch in an Indian restaurant called New Delhi just opposite to our hotel. Indian food after 3 days! It was a blessing indeed. After a hefty lunch, we moved on to see the most talked-about colosseum. First-time entry to Colosseum is free with a Roma pass. It is unbelievable. If you really have interest in roman history do take an audio-guided tour from reception. Post colosseum we proceeded towards the Roman forum, Platino, and Piazza Venezia. These are nearby places inside the bounded area. Again, you may use your Roma pass for your first-time entry.
Heads up: Do not take any personal guide outside colosseum. Take a self-guided audio tour instead which is easy to access and available in multiple languages.
Roaming around the streets of Rome
We started our Vatican city tour early in the morning. We went to our travel agent office to collect our ticket and ended up purchasing a guided tour for Vatican city for 25 euros per person. But it was totally worth shelling out these 25 euros! Vatican city is huge and too crowded to be explored on your own. The Sistine Chapel has extraordinary paintings by Michelangelo, leading its way to st. Peter’s basilica. It’s huge! It’s apparently the largest church in the world with a capacity of 60,000 people to conduct mass in a go, worth visiting I must say. You can go up the dome with an additional cost. Outside St. Peter’s basilica is the famous St. Peter’s Square reminding you of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.
A country in itself, Vatican city the richest country in the world and is a worth visit. Post the Vatican city we moved on to St Angelios castle, just 10 mins walk from there. As the entry fee was a bit high we did not enter the castle. You may avail a direct bus from the castle to Piazza Navona. There are two fountains on either side of the building making it a picturesque scene. A 10-minute walk will take you to the Pantheon—a small but beautiful church in the streets of Rome. The magnificent Trevi Fountain is just 5 minutes walk from the Pantheon. The detailing of sculptures in the fountain shows the richness of Roman art. We took a brisk walk to the Spanish Steps from the fountain and decided to end our tedious day by 7 pm.
Heads up: Do take a guided tour only in the Vatican city else you will get lost. There ought to be lots of walking, preferably go on with sports shoes. Beware of pickpockets.
The most awaited destination is here… Even if you aren’t attracted at first, you will fall in love with it at some point of your stay there, that’s the beauty of Santorini. We took our flight from Rome at 12 pm and reached our hotel Nautilus Dome in Santorini by 4 pm. Nautilus dome is a simple yet beautiful hotel situated in the Mesaria area of Santorini. The most wonderful thing about this hotel is that it provided unlimited free pick up and drop at Fira, the main city of Santorini. we spent the evening exploring the beauty of Fira. The white building, setting sun, and the lush blue water by your side compels you to have a romantic dinner with your partner in the beautiful restaurants on the edge of Fira. Fira is known for its quaint, dashing restaurants. Do not miss out on the chill box frozen yogurt and falafel wrap!
Heads up: Do wear sports shoes. Do not try to take a cable car to the old port from Fira in the evening as it’s too crowded. Most of the people residing in cruises opt cable cars to go down, making it a crowdy affair.
Tour of Caldera on Sailing Boat: Volcano-Hot springs- Thirassia-Oia
In the morning we had our ferry planned to the volcano mountains and the island of Thirassia. We took a cable car from Fira to reach the old port of Santorini. Our boat was scheduled at 10.30 am and was sharp on time. We sailed for 15 minutes and reached the Palea Kameni island, the youngest volcanic island there. Trekking to the highest point of the mountain was exhaustive in bright sunlight, but worth a view. At the top of the mountain, we could smell sulphur and the view of Santorini from up there was amazing. The guide will refresh your childhood geography topic of volcanic eruption with technical details. Next, we moved on to a hot spring wherein our boat was stationed approximately 300 meters from the mountain. The hot spring is considered to have medical properties that are good for the skin and people who are comfortable with swimming in the sea can dive down. Our boat then sailed to the island of Thirassia where our boat stopped for 2 hours, giving us enough time to have lunch and take a sunbath in the bright sun. We started off for Santorini by 3.30 and reached the old port of Fira by 4 pm. We took a direct bus and reached Oia, the heart of Santorini by 5 pm. OIA is known to be the most beautiful part of Santorini and is famous for its sunset view. White buildings, blue domes, bright sun, and water till the end of eyesight made it a breathtaking view. As the sun sets you can witness whole of Santorini changing its color from white to orange which is worth capturing for your collection.
Heads up: You may skip the volcanic island tour if you want to relax in Santorini. If possible, take photographs from a DSLR as setting the right exposure in mobile phones is a bit tough. Do not go down to the old port by steps, as it’s too exhaustive and not worth a try. You may use cable cars which costs 6 EUR per person.
Santorini to Athens
On this day, we just had a short visit to the Black Beach in the Southern part of Santorini. There are multiple beaches in Santorini with different colors of sand due to volcanic eruptions. Due to lack of time, we were only able to witness the black beach. Another famous beach is the Red Beach with red rocks around the water. At around 1 pm we started off for the new port of Santorini from where our ferry was scheduled for Athens. The Paros jet was the name of our ferry and is huge with a seating capacity of 1050 people. You will get a feeling that you are travelling on an international flight with elite bars and restaurants on the board. We reached Athens at around 8.30 pm in the evening and ended our day with a famous Greek salad on a plate.
Heads up: Transportation system in Santorini is not that good and would recommend taking a self-driven car/bike or an ATV. Please take an international driving license to avail this. From Athens Port to your hotel, do not take taxi standing from Port taxi stand, they may fool you. You may take an Uber, or download the local app BEAT to book an online taxi. Also, beware of pickpockets in Athens.
Classic Hop on Hop off in Athens
The best way to cover Athens is through a hop on hop off bus tour. We boarded our bus at around 10 am and reached the famous place in Athens, the Slopes of Acropolis. Luckily, we were there during the last weekend of September which was celebrated as cultural days in Greece and we got free entry tickets to Acropolis. As soon as you enter, you’ll see a Dionysus. Walking ahead you will come across the famous Acropolis of Athens. We had taken a self-guided tour of the Acropolis by a free online app called as Rick Steve’s. The app gives you an insight into the monuments and their historic details. Then we visited Zeus, followed by parliament and the Kallimarmaro stadium. This stadium is known for conducting the first-ever modern Olympic game. We got off from our bus at Plaka Street and walked down the streets of Athens. Plaka is famous for its street shopping and local Greek stuff.
Heads up: Do bargain on Plaka street, and beware of pickpockets.
Taking away memories
This day, we didn’t travel much. We had our flight scheduled from Athens Airport to Delhi at 12 pm. We started off from our hotel at 8.30 and took off from Athens with a bundle of memories by 12.30 pm.
Loved Vidhi’s story? It’s time to craft your own holiday, your way with Pickyourtrail.